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american jobs, the unemployment rate drops below 8%. we'll look at what is driving the numbers that today became big news in the race for president. and breaking news again tonight about the border agent killed in arizona, now feared to be the victim of a terrible mistake. and sky high, gas prices up 20 cents a gallon overnight, leaving drivers on the west coast stunned at the price of a tank of gas. and the street fight involving sesame street of all places. could mitt romney really fire big bird? just the thought of it has pbs fans all fired up. nightly news begins now. good evening, coming off a lackluster debate performance,
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the president got some good news today, 32 days before the election, the nation's jobless rate fell to the lowest level of his term in office. economists will argue what it means, but here are today's numbers, the economy gained about 114,000 jobs in the last month, pushing the unemployment rate to 7.8%, that is where today's political debate in this country started out. we have it all covered here tonight. and we'll begin our coverage with nbc's andrea mitchell, good evening, andrea. >> reporter: good evening, brian, in a week that has been a roller coaster for both of the candidates, today's news gave a good bit of a jolt, but that set off a firestorm on what it really means. the news that the unemployment dipped below 8% since he took office came just in time for a president battered by his poor performance in the debate. >> today's news should give us some encouragement.
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it shouldn't be an excuse for the other side to try to talk down the economy, just to try to score a few political points. >> reporter: not surprisingly, mitt romney saw it differently. >> there were fewer new jobs created this month than last month. >> reporter: romney argued today's numbers disguised the fact that people had stopped trying to even find jobs. >> so it looks like unemployment is getting better. but the truth is, if the same share of people were participating in the work force today, today is on the day that the president got elected, well, the unemployment rate would be at about 11%. >> reporter: it is true that only 114,000 jobs were added last month, a modest number, but economists say a number of people were working, not just giving up trying to find a job. and numbers from the last two months went up. still, manufacturing was weak >> we're seeing a lot of volatility in the numbers on a month to month basis, so until we see a consistent trend in the numbers that show we're generating a lot
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of jobs and seeing a lot of people participate, you kind of take it with a grain of salt. >> reporter: while the market saw good news, some saw a conspiracy. jack welch, former chairman of ge accused the white house of cooking the books he said these chicago guys will do anything when pressed by chris matthews, he wouldn't take it back. >> i have no evidence to prove that. i just raised the question. >> did you talk to the economists or any of the people in the accounting world that understood how the numbers were put together before you accuse the chicago guys of changing the numbers? >> it seems like a coincidence, that one month before the election they would end up at 7.8. >> reporter: the numbers are crunched by the economists and the independent bureau of labor statistics, civil servants, not employees. >> these are skilled people working in the bls, it is ridiculous to hear that kind of statement. >> reporter: a prominent romney supporter agrees.
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>> there was no way they were manipulated for political purposes. the people that put it together were civil servants, the experts in the area. the process was one of integrity. >> reporter: while some see it as a boost, romney is trying to neutralize the attack, over his comments regarding 47% of americans not paying income tax. and see themselves as victims. a view he now disavows. >> sometimes you say something completely wrong. >> reporter: only three weeks ago he said the comments were not elegantly stated. now he disavows the comments, perhaps in time for the debate when president obama is expected to be ready for attack. >> thank you. sue herrera has visited us from cnbc headquarters today here in our studios, by the way, the markets reacted in a big way today as job news, stocks closed at the highest level today in
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nearly five years, as you sue, know, all too well. what does it mean? >> i think it was a good report in one sense in that the economy is continuing to add jobs, but it was not a great report. we need to continue to see better numbers than this. 150 or 200,000 new jobs created for the next few months to get us back to levels of much better employment. it is a start, but not a great report. it is a start but not a good report. >> as we saw in andrea's set-up piece, the combination of the retired executive with the twitter account made some trouble for the president today. the comments aside, in your experience can numbers like this be manipulated at all? >> no, because it is a difficult number to put together, that is for a reason, because they don't want it to be manipulated. they're put together by two separate government entities, bureau of labor statistics, the labor department, and then the census bureau. and then the employment numbers, put together by the labor department.
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that tells us the number of jobs created by businesses. then there was a household survey, where field representatives go in and call a number of households, putting that number together. you combine the two and that is the report we got this morning but with 2,000 field representatives involved, and two government entities involved, it is almost impossible to manipulate these numbers. >> that is why we needed it all explained, as always, sue herrera. now to breaking news out of arizona, where last night we reported the possibility that they were looking at the possibility that the u.s. border agent killed there may have been the victim of friendly fire. tonight there is more, more at the border patrol station in bisbee station there. good evening. mark, good evening >> reporter: and good evening, sources tell nbc news they expected an announcement soon that federal investigators do believe the shooting was a case of friendly fire.
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agents from this border patrol station shooting each other accidentally. agent nicholas ivie was shot tuesday, while investigating a possible illegal crossing near arizona. two other agents were on scene, and one of them was wounded when shooting broke out. today, homeland security secretary janet napolitano was there to meet agent ivy's family and to be briefed on the investigation. sources say they couldn't find evidence of any other people involved at the shooting scene, and that the ballistics are consistent with friendly fire. >> mark potter in bisbee, arizona, thank you. and again, we told you last night we have an out of control situation. in california, gasoline prices have been rocketing higher in the last 24 hours it has gotten even worse getting close to $6 a gallon in some places. others have no gas to sell at all.
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nbc's kristen dahlgren from los angeles with us. good evening >> reporter: good evening, since we talked yesterday, things have gone up, take a look. 5.89 as prices in california close in on all-time record highs. just when people in california thought things couldn't get worse. >> five bucks? oh, my god. >> reporter: even bigger sticker shock. >> i had no idea it had gone up this much, you know, just overnight. >> reporter: prices up another 20 cents a gallon since midnight. >> how can it go from what was it? 4.70 a week ago? in california, the price is up 36 cents, to 4.49, 67 cents from last year when gas was 3.82. and some stations are topping five dollars, that is if they have gas. many costco stations shut down this week after running out. and independent stations say they can barely break even. wholesale prices are so high.
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>> every day, the price is going up, crazy. we have no control in it. >> reporter: they tried to explain that to customers. >> chevron's facility is down, from a fire in august exxon mobile, tough to find gasoline because of the refinery production taking a big drop. >> reporter: on thursday, valero, the nations largest refinery, announce it would suspend the sales, although it would continue to supply its own gasoline, customers brace. it could bring more big jumps at the pump >> it will get worse before it gets better. >> reporter: there are also some high prices on the east coast, relatively speaking, new york and connecticut up over $4, but not seeing these huge price spikes. and brian, experts say here in california we could see it continue to climb for the next few days before we see any relief. >> just an unbelievable situation in california and
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elsewhere tonight. kristen dahlgren, from l.a., again thanks a terrible pile-up to report out of florida this evening on i-75 southbound near sarasota at the start of the busy travel time, a three-day weekend for a lot of folks. the florida highway patrol reported nearly 50 vehicles involved in all, 52 injuries, including three air-lifted out of there. now on the update on the problems for american airlines who say they have almost finished up inspections and the work they have done on four dozen boeing 757s, pulled from service last night, temporarily grounded from the fleet after seats came loose on three flights over the past week. nbc, tom costello covers aviation. he is with us again >> reporter: hi, brian, after cancelling 150 flights, four more today, the airline says it is running normally tonight. and the last of the 757s will be back to work.
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the airline mechanics looked closely at the locking pin. they claim that wear and tear, as well as something called cokeing, as in the soft drink as in the soft drink, you know what happens when you spill that on a keyboard? american says that the years of the drink gummed up on the pins, keeping them from locking down. the 757s are at least 15-20 years old. the faa reports no other airlines have had this happen to them and their seats. and the faa is also looking at whether or not the seats were installed incorrectly after they were recently moved by mechanics. >> hard to believe that the beverages got together and decided to take effect right now. tom costello in our washington bureau, thank you. and an update on the outbreak of a rare form of
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meningitis, caused by steroid injections that are used to treat back pain. the bad medicine came from a compounding pharmacy in massachusetts. it has since been shut down. five people have died. 47 are thought to be infected, and patients in 23 states now are being warned to watch for meningitis symptoms. still ahead as we continue on a friday night. charges of cheating and sabotage by an american olympic skater. what could be the biggest scandal on ice since kerrigan and harding. and more from half a century ago. the british invasion. our music and movies have never been the same since.
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as we mentioned there is a new scandal in the world of skating tonight after a u.s. olympic athlete made a shocking confession. he cheated. sabotaged a competitor that he says he felt he had no choice. our report on all of this tonight from nbc's stephanie gosk. >> reporter: for short track speed skating, it is as close to hand to hand combat as winter sports gets, flying at 30 miles an hour, doing whatever it takes to get an edge. today, u.s. speed skater and olympic medal winner simon cho made a shocking admission. i tempered with a skate by a canadian skater, after being pressured to do so. >> reporter: he says his coach put him up to it, during the 2011 championships, using their
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mutual korean heritage to manipulate him. in the asian culture, when an elder asks you to do something or makes a request, it is very difficult to deny. the coach's client tells nbc news he won't comment until after the hearing but today, the u.s. speed skating association said they couldn't prove the sabotage was the coach's idea. >> we don't believe there was sufficient evidence to conclude that coach jae su chun directed simon cho to tamper with the skates. >> reporter: olivier jean knew there was something wrong with his skates the first lap of the relay and was forced to withdraw. he used a tool to align the skates, and it could have been extremely dangerous. >> clearly they undermine the sport, so this is a tremendous black eye for the u.s. speed skating.
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>> reporter: this likely will trigger images of the skating championships in years past, when tonya harding worked against nancy kerrigan. it ended harding's career. cho is waiting to hear what his punishment will be. >> i called olivier jean last night to apologize. >> reporter: the u.s. and canada face off in just two weeks, in calgary. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. up next here tonight, mitt romney calls out big bird before a national viewing audience, and pbs nation goes on the defensive.
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if your household is among the millions with children, perhaps including you at one time, were raised with the help of some friends named big bird, kermit, elmo, oscar and the count, then perhaps your ears picked up during this year's debate, when mitt romney talked about federal funding and took on pbs in the process.
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it was one of the memorable moments in the debate, when mitt romney called for an end to government funding of the moderator's own network. >> i am going to stop the subsidy to pbs, i like big bird, i like you too, but i won't keep spending on things to get china to pay for it. >> but while he didn't have an attack that night, president obama talked about it the next day. >> he will do away with regulations on wall street, but he will crack down on sesame street. thank goodness, somebody is finally cracking down on big bird. pbs has been a favorite target of mostly conservative politicians for years. when he was house speaker, gingrich called it a little sand box for the rich, prompting us to ask some parents what they thought about it.
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>> i think he chose the wrong target. >> the network of sesame street and the civil war and masters, pbs has 179 stations across the country, including some smaller rural stations that couldn't make it without the subsidies. the federal share of the corporation for public broadcasting is about $450 million this year, that is 15% of their overall operating budget for a perspective, that is about 1-100th of a percent of our federal budget. and that 450 million is about what the pentagon spends every six hours. the operator of pbs almost fell off her couch when he said that. >> to suggest that defunding the public broadcasting as part of the solution just seems really strange. >> the sesame street workshop is not a part of pbs, but that is how their programs get distributed. and big bird learned how many friends he had on debate night. at one point he was the topic of 7,000 tweets.
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he got on pbs, and the number of save big bird campaigns have sprouted up. if the federal money goes away, it will have to come from elsewhere, like charitable foundations, and you guessed it. viewers like you. one more break here tonight. and when we come back, two legends of our time, and the one day that started it all.
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finally tonight, a couple of icons of our culture, james bond and the beatles, they were both of course a part of the british invasion. and they share something very important, as well. we get our report from london tonight. >> reporter: when london welcomed the world to the olympics, britain's most famous spy got star billing. and the former beatle closed the show. the beatles. >> here they are, the beatles! >> reporter: and bond, turns out they have been together a long time. >> bond, james bond. >> bond. >> bond. >> bond. >> reporter: oo 7 was created by
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former spy ian flemming back in the '50s but they got their fame with dr. no, 50 years ago. >> 007, with license to kill who he pleases, when he pleases, where he pleases. >> reasonable story, lovely, quite exotic locations, lovely fun. >> reporter: a winning formula and a license to fill movie theaters for half a century. the latest bond? out next month. bond has changed with the times. >> hi, i'm daniel craig and i'm hosting saturday night live with news. >> you get to keep the bond gadgets? >> i do. >> reporter: but some things have not changed at all. the aston martin that connery drove. so does craig
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and the signature theme song. >> ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ written for the first film the moment i heard that, i knew that i was on to the right thing. >> reporter: music is what brings us here. to abbey road, where the beatles recorded. and here is the connection. the first beatles record came out on the very same day as that first bond film, october 5th, 1962. >> love, love me do ♪ ♪ ♪ >> reporter: it was the beginning of a revolution in pop culture, the beatles not only changed with the times, they helped define them. the band broke up long ago, of course. but the music carries on. and there is something very british about that. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> reporter: the beatles, like bond, are forever. nbc news, london. >> and that is our broadcast on a friday night, thank you for
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joining us. i'm brian williams. lester holt will be here with you this weekend. of course we hope to see you right back here on monday night. in the meantime, have a good weekend. good night. >> good evening. thanks for joining us on this friday. i'm raj mathai. >> and i'm jessica aguirre. let all of the games begin. a block buster weekend for san francisco is under way. here's a live look at the golden gate bridge and the bay bridge. traffic is streaming into the city and it's going to get more full. but this is the calm before the storm. the storm of people that will hit the city tomorrow. from the america's cup races to the blue angels it will be a

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